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The New Arab

Al-Qaeda militants killed in Yemen drone strike

US drone strikes have targeted al-Qaeda positions since 2009

Date of publication: 5 August, 2016

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A pair of alleged al-Qaeda militants were killed in a suspected US drone strike in Yemen's Shabwa province on Thursday.
Two suspected al-Qaeda members were killed in a drone strike that struck a position in the south of Yemen on Thursday, a security official said.

The two militants died when the suspected US strike targeted a military vehicle at a militant-manned checkpoint in the Shabwa province, the official told AFP.

The United States, which considers al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch to the network’s deadliest franchise, has carried out numerous drone strikes in Yemen for several years.

Last month, a much anticipated report revealing the number of those killed in the controversial US drone programme since 2009 was widely questioned, with rights groups doubting the 'low numbers'.

The White House revealed that up to 116 civilians were killed in President Barack Obama's controversial drone strikes initiative in countries including Yemen, Pakistan and Africa.

An estimated 473 strikes – conducted outside the US' principal war zones in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – had killed 64 to 116 civilians between 2009 and 2015, a report from the Director of National Intelligence revealed for the first time on Friday.

Years of pressure from rights groups demanded a better accounting of military actions under Obama led to the release of information that has for years been kept classified among officials in Washington.

Critics have long alleged that the US drone strikes kill far more civilians than claimed but Friday's revelations caused further questions to be posed, with even the DNI acknowledging the possible weakness of its own numbers.

"Although the US government has access to a wide range of information, the figures released today should be considered in light of the inherent limitations on the ability to determine the precise number of combatant and non-combatant deaths given the non-permissive environments in which these strikes often occur," the DNI said in a statement.

The US' drone programme – a key tool of Obama's counterterrorism strategy – has long been shrouded in secrecy. 

The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism previously estimated that there were anywhere from 492 to about 1,100 civilians killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since 2002.

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